The Sister City Concept: In 1956, President Dwight D. Eisenhower proposed the people-to-people concept that led to the development of Sister Cities International. It was President Eisenhower’s belief that strong relationships established between cities in the United States and cities of the world would lessen the potential for world conflicts. Based on this concept, in 1991 local Longmont businesses and city government joined together to establish Longmont’s first sister city relationship with Chino, Japan. Longmont’s second sister city relationship with Ciudad Guzman, Mexico was formed in 1998. In 2019, Longmont began a program with the Northern Arapaho Nation, based in Wind River, Wyoming.
Student Exchange Program: The purpose of the Longmont Sister Cities Association’s Student Exchange Program is to provide an opportunity for Longmont students and families to develop cultural understanding with the people of Chino, Japan and Ciudad Guzman, Mexico through family living experiences. Unfortunately due to the Tokyo Olympics, we will not have an exchange with Chino, Japan this year but will again in 2021. However, the new Arapahoe exchange offers an opportunity to learn about the former residents of the front range.
Who is eligible to apply? Student applicants must reside in the St. Vrain Valley School District attendance area or attend school within the boundaries of the school district and must be currently enrolled in 8th – 11th grades. Students may attend public, private or charter schools or be home schooled. Students must also expect to live in the St. Vrain Valley School District area following their summer travel.
Student’s Time and Commitment: A good deal of time is required. The actual exchange has students traveling to Mexico in mid-July for a ten-day home stay and students from Ciudad Guzman visiting Longmont in early August for another ten days. The Arapaho exchange will include a visit to Wyoming and a shorter exchange in Longmont.
Once selected, all Student Ambassadors are required to attend orientation sessions and fundraisers prior to departure; participate and play an active role in the Longmont Sister Cities Association and its activities; work at organization fundraisers; and in general promote the program. Attendance at orientation sessions and other informational meetings is critical. Missing more than 20% of training sessions will be grounds for dismissal from the program. Upon return, the Ambassadors are required to participate in the activities scheduled for the Arapaho and Mexican students visiting Longmont; assist in preparation of a presentation to share with the community; give a minimum of three talks about the exchange experience in schools and the community; and stay active in the Longmont Sister Cities Association for at least one year. An estimated 2 hours twice a month commitment is expected.
Student Responsibilities: Students selected to participate in the Longmont Sister City exchange program serve as ambassadors and representatives of Longmont, Colorado and the United States. While participating in the exchange, students must be respectful of their host families and must be willing to be helpful with the household and family duties and to assume the same responsibility as other members of the family. Students are expected to participate in all scheduled activities in their sister city. As an ambassador, students are expected to follow a dress code and violations of this are grounds to be sent home at the student's family expense. Departure to Mexico is around July 15 and return is around the 30th. Our Mexican guests visit around the 30th of July and stay until around the 9th of August. Travel dates for Wyoming and the local exchange are TBD.
Cost: Travel costs $700 for Mexico per student and will be approximately $100 per student for the Arapahoe exchange. A program fee of $150 will be collected at the time of ambassador selection. Each ambassador will receive organization shirts, and payment for all local exchange activities. This cost does not include any airfare, passport fees, spending money or gifts. Costs may fluctuate depending on currency exchange rates and airfare at the time of travel. Parents, with the help of Sister Cities Board members, will develop fundraising opportunities for ambassadors in spring and early summer so that each ambassador can earn some of his/her own money for travel. All funds raised through the Sister Cities fundraisers must be used for Sister City activities. There should be a direct relationship between effort expended and reward. A strict accounting system will be established to record participation in fundraising. Financial aid may be available, and if so, will be granted based on financial need. Financial aid must be used for travel expenses. Applications for financial aid will be available upon student selection.
Responsibility of Parent(s)/Guardian(s) of Exchange Students: The Longmont Sister Cities Association expects the support of parents and guardians including participation in the organization’s activities, including home-hosting ambassadors from our Sister Cities. The foreign students generally arrive in the first week of August for a ten-day stay. Many activities are planned for the students during their stay in Longmont. It is expected that most of our home hosts will be the families of our ambassadors; however, if this is impossible for your family, we will request your assistance in finding an appropriate home stay family. Parents should be aware of the need to have their son/daughter available for all meetings and speaking engagements upon their return, as well as helping in the organization’s major fundraising activities. Obtaining a passport, as well as travel and health documents and/or insurance is the responsibility of the ambassador and his/her family prior to departure. Families planning summer vacations should consider taking them in late May or early June, and not in July when vital information is shared and final planning and preparation takes place during orientation meetings. During the Longmont exchange, parents are responsible for ensuring the well being of their guest.
Selection Process: All applicants are required to attend an individual interview scheduled for both the applicant and a parent on either November 9th or 10th. You will be contacted to select a time for your interview. You will need to bring with you to your interview a copy of your school attendance record. The interview panel will make the final selections, and student/parents will be informed of their status within one week of the individual interviews. The selected ambassadors and at least one parent will be expected to attend an orientation meeting scheduled Tuesday, December 2 for more specific information and to begin planning fundraising, training sessions and other activities.